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Tsvangirai asks why anyone should doubt Zimbabwe’s reforms

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he saw no reason why everyone should doubt Zimbabwe’s reforms. He was speaking on his first day in office on his return from leave following the death of his wife, Susan.

Tsvangirai’s remarks were reported in The Herald and the United States embassy claimed that the paper twisted Tsvangirai’s words into a negative blast at US sanctions.

The embassy claimed that The Herald had declared a temporary truce with Tsvangirai and was focussing its ire on the West and the US in particular.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE285, ZIM NOTES 04-03-09

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE285

2009-04-03 13:22

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8923

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0285/01 0931322

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 031322Z APR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4330

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2261

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2760

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2882

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1328

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2147

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2503

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2930

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5371

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2049

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000285

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

TREASURY FOR D. PETERS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR LDOBBINS AND JHARMON

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON EFIN ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 04-03-09

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

– WhereQs the Money

– QTsvangirai Blasts West

– New Mercedes for All

– Parliament forms Committees

– QBlowQ to U.S. Sanctions

– Journalist Abducted in Gweru

– Anglican Church Feud Boils Over

– No QHell HoleQ Here

– Exam Council Corruption

– Labor Struggles

– Two Staffdels on Their Way

– Family Planning Contributing to Health Success

– King of Pop Supports GOZ

– Scoping Mission for Donor-GOZ Needs Assessment

– Prices Falling for the Masses

– Biti Gets Tough with Tax Evaders

– A Whiff of Recovery on Local Exchange

– Deloitte Mired In Controversy

– Quote of the Week

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

—————————–

 

2. WhereQs the Money… SADC last week in Swaziland approved an

economic recovery plan of US$10 billion for Zimbabwe and agreed that

US$2 billion was needed urgently. SADC will next look to donors.

Concretely, South Africa agreed to provide US$30 million over three

months for budgetary support and a US$50 million line of credit.

See Harare 278

 

3. QTsvangirai Blasts WestQ… On his first day back in the office

following bereavement leave after the tragic death of his wife

Susan, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he saw Qno reason why

everyone should doubt [ZimbabweQs] reforms.Q The Herald twisted his

words into a negative blast at U.S. sanctions. A headline on Friday

in the inside of The Herald declared QWest doesnQt want Govt to

succeed,Q and again attacked the U.S. on sanctions. ZANU-PF,

through its mouthpiece The Herald, has apparently declared at least

a temporary truce with its partner in government, and is focusing

its ire on the West and the U.S. in particular.

 

4. New Mercedes for All… Education Minister David Coltart is the

lone MDC minister to turn down a new US$50,000 E280 Mercedes Benz.

This comes despite years of MDC criticism of government expenditures

on luxury vehicles. Finance Minister Tendai Biti told the press

this week that the vehicles were purchased last year but never

distributed. Separately, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono told

parliamentarians this week that their second-hand vehicles will be

replaced with new cars as soon as Minister Biti Qgets money.

Senate president Edna Madzongwe (ZANU-PF) proposed that new MPs be

given priority.

 

5. Parliament forms Committees… This week parliament finalized

several important committee structures, including the legal

committee, responsible for reviewing constitutionality of proposed

legislation and the portfolio committees, which serve as an

oversight mechanism on the executive. Additionally, Parliament

constituted a select committee on the constitution, which will

direct the constitutional draft process. See Harare 281

 

6. QBlowQ to U.S. Sanctions… This week John Bredenkamp, a

businessman on the EU and OFAC sanctions lists who has backed the

Qbusinessman on the EU and OFAC sanctions lists who has backed the

 

HARARE 00000285 002 OF 004

 

 

regime, won an interim order from the High Court in Johannesburg

preventing South AfricaQs Standard Bank from shutting down his

accounts. The bank tried to close them citing concerns about its

own reputation and that clients might think that Standard BankQs

accounts Qcould be used to facilitate unlawful or unethical acts.

 

 

7. Journalist Abducted in Gweru… Kudzai Musengi, a freelance

journalist, was abducted on March 31 and held for 24 hours by

unknown assailants. He had been working on a story about land

invasions in the area when he was abducted. He was driven into the

bush where he was interrogated and threatened. He was eventually

released near his home.

 

8. Anglican Church Feud Boils Over… The contentious relationship

between the head of the Anglican Church in Harare, Bishop Sebastian

Bakare, and his deposed and excommunicated predecessor, former

Bishop Kunonga, became violent on March 28 when police disrupted

Anglican services and wounded a bystander with an errant shot.

Police used tear gas and riot police to prevent Bakare supporters

from holding services at Anglican churches, in support of KunongaQs

claim that those properties now belonged to him. While KunongaQs

diocese has abandoned him, he retains strong ties to Police

Commissioner Chihuri, who has directed his department to support

Kunonga. The two Home Affairs ministers met with both men this week

and, while expressing dismay at the heavy-handed police action,

deferred the matter to the Attorney GeneralQs office. See Harare283

 

9. No QHell HoleQ Here… South Africa-based SABC-TV3 aired QHell

HoleQ this week, a horrifying documentary on prison conditions

across Zimbabwe. Footage, taken over three months using smuggled

cameras, showed overcrowded, filthy prison cells, starvation among

prisoners, and interviews with prisoners who described appalling

conditions and bodies left rotting for days in prison cells. In

response, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said, QSABC is lying.

We do not allow cameras into our prisons. We have made

investigations and found out that the footage is not from Zimbabwe.

Prison officials where the footage was taken are now reportedly

under investigation for Qcompromising state security.

Nevertheless, the government recently agreed to allow the

International Committee of the Red Cross to assist with improving

prison conditions.

 

10. Exam Council Corruption… Education Minister Coltart has

uncovered corruption in the marking of O and A level exams by the

Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC). He found ghost

markers and irregularities that will cause further delays both in

the payment of markers and in the release of the long overdue 2008

exam results.

 

11. Labor Struggles… Unemployment, dwindling wages, conflicting

laws, splinter unions, and internal squabbles have eroded the

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade UnionQs influence. For a detailed

QZimbabwe Congress of Trade UnionQs influence. For a detailed

analysis see Harare 275 and 276.

 

12. Two Staffdels on Their Way… Over the next two weeks post

will host congressional staff delegations from the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee and from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

 

 

13. Family Planning Contributing to Health Success… Preliminary

results from a yet-to-be-released study indicate that ZimbabweQs

maternal mortality rate is now about 715 per 100,000 births, about

2,700 deaths annually. This is an increase from a 2005/2006 survey,

and constitutes an increase of about 30% since 2000. Interestingly,

the new data show that only 6% of maternal deaths are due to

post-abortion complications Q 4 to 5 times lower than in other

developing countries in Africa. Since the number and timing of

 

HARARE 00000285 003 OF 004

 

 

pregnancies affect the reproductive health risks for women, it may

well be that high levels of contraceptive prevalence in Zimbabwe are

contributing to the low numbers of abortions and post-abortion

complications, without which the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe

could well have been 24% higher. The same data indicates perinatal

mortality in Zimbabwe is 29 per 1,000, about 10,800 infant deaths

per year. Other developing countries with similar child mortality

rates often have perinatal mortality of around 40 or 45. The

reduced rate in Zimbabwe may also be related to high levels of

contraceptive use. In sum, the 58% prevalence of modern

contraceptive use among married women in Zimbabwe appears to be

saving lives. If so, USAIDQs continuing investments in family

planning are a significant contributor to that preventive health

success story.

 

14. King of Pop Supports GOZ… On April 1, the government

mouthpiece The Herald reported that Michael Jackson was coming to

Zimbabwe to sustain the QmomentumQ from last weekQs Tourism

Stakeholders Conference, confirm Zimbabwe as a safe tourist

destination, and donate money to Zimbabwe. On April 2, the

newspaper confirmed it was all an April FoolQs joke.

 

————————–

Economic and Business News

————————–

 

15. Scoping Mission for Donor-GOZ Needs Assessment… The World

Bank, AfDB, UNDP, and the EC, in coordination with the Ministry of

Finance, will undertake a scoping mission from April 6-17 to lay the

groundwork for a sectoral-based needs assessment in May. The

mission will clarify the role of the donors and government in the

needs assessment, agree on a timeline and framework, identify team

composition, and establish key sectors and priorities to be

reviewed. The needs assessment will cover six sectors, including

economic growth, social protection, infrastructure, agriculture

recovery, basic services, and government. As a joint donor-GOZ

effort, it will be the basis for recovery and development programs.

 

 

16. Prices Falling for the Masses… With the introduction of

dollarization, PricewaterhouseCoopers has resurrected its monthly

cost of living survey.   For February 2009, it determined a 14.44%

drop in the monthly cost of living for low-income earners. For

high-income earners the index actually rose 7.62%, driven by

increases in domestic employee salaries, telephone bills, school

fees, and vehicle maintenance.

 

17. Biti Gets Tough with Tax Evaders… In his review of the 2009

Budget, Finance Minister Biti directed the Zimbabwe Revenue

Authority to strictly enforce tax laws including seizure of assets

of tax evaders and auctioning them to recover lost revenue. Stiff

penalties are intended to instill discipline among tax payers who

had grown accustomed to evading taxes in recent years.

 

18. A Whiff of Recovery on Local Exchange… The Zimbabwe Stock

Exchange recorded its first notable increase in volume this week

QExchange recorded its first notable increase in volume this week

since re-opening two months ago. Market capitalization (shares

times their price) recovered to US$1.588 billion after having hit a

low of US$1.275 billion in mid March.

 

19. Deloitte Mired In Controversy… At an Extraordinary General

Meeting of wireless provider Econet last week, auditor Deloitte

appears to have inflated the total ballots cast while disregarding

key proxy votes. The irregularity boosted the vote in favor of a

resolution to enter into a US$93.9 million installment sale

agreement with Econet Wireless Global, a Strive Masiyiwa investment

vehicle. Threats of suits and countersuits abound. Econet/Masiyiwa

is also a key shareholder in the disastrous merger last year of

Kingdom Bank and Meikles Africa which has also ended up in the

 

HARARE 00000285 004 OF 004

 

 

courts over allegations of misdoings.

 

20. Quote of the Week:

 

QI have not bought any cars for anyone… We either had to leave

them to rot or sell them, and get half their value. It was cheaper

to keep them. It was a matter of practicality.Q –Finance Minister

Tendai Biti on the ministersQ Mercedes Benzes.

 

MCGEE

 

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